Cat retinal ganglion cells were identified as X-cells (linear) or Y-cells (non-linear) on the basis of the spatial summation properties of their receptive fields. For each cell, the degree of non-linearity in spatial summation was assessed at a number of different mean luminance levels in order to determine how spatial linearity depended on mean luminance. The stimuli were counterphase sinusoidal gratings whose contrast was sinusoidally modulated in time. A grating with one bar centered on the receptive field was used to measure the contrast sensitivity of the mechanisms which produced responses at the stimulus frequency. A grating with a zero crossing centered on the receptive field was used to measure the contrast sensitivity of mechanisms responsible for the non-linear frequency doubled responses of Y-cells. As the mean luminance was reduced from low photopic to scotopic, the contrast sensitivity decreased for both the linear and non-linear responses. The ratio of non-linear to linear sensitivity in Y-cells changed less with background than did either contrast sensitivity. In some Y-cells this ratio decreased slightly at low luminance levels, but in others it did not. X-cells appeared to sum signals linearly at all levels of illumination. X-cells and Y-cells could still be distinguished on the basis of their spatial summation properties in the scotopic range.
- Retinal Ganglion Cells
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